A Gayle force journey from Knightswood to Broadway

IT'S a long way from Knightswood to Broadway but young actress Gayle Rankin has made the leap.

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Cabaret opens at New York's Roundabout Theatre
Cabaret opens at New York's Roundabout Theatre

The 24-year-old, who moved to New York to study at the world-famous Julliard School, has seen a slew of success since moving stateside.

Gayle was a pupil of the Dance School of Scotland in Knightswood Secondary before gaining her place in New York.

She is now preparing to star on Broadway in Caberet alongside Michelle Williams and Alan Cumming in a show directed by Sam Mendes.

But Gayle said she owes everything to her training at the Dance School of Scotland, especially in this latest role.

She said: "I was really nervous about auditioning and wasn't sure what to perform.

"However, when I was the Dance School I had performed Love For Sale and I thought, 'I'm just going to do it, I'm just going to sing that.'

"And so I did - and it got me the part. My training at the school prepared me directly for this part and I couldn't be more grateful."

Gayle was the first Knightswood pupil to go on to study at Julliard, the performing arts college attended by the likes of Robin Williams, Kevin Spacey, Laura Linney and Kelly McGillis.

Helped with the cost by winning a scholarship, as well as a Donald Dewar Arts Award, Gayle travelled to Manhatten aged just 17 - and her career has since sky-rocketed.

After her four-year drama course finished she went on to appear in independent movies, work with top directors and even starred in hit TV show Law and Order: Special Victims Unit.

From television Gayle moved back to the theatre to star in the play Tribes, about a deaf boy called Billy and his unconventional family, in which Gayle played the sister.

During its run at Manhattan's Barrow Street Theatre, Tribes won outstanding play at the Drama Desk Awards and gathered 20 more nominations.

Gayle performed alongside Oscar-nominated American actress Mare Winningham in a show feted by critics.

She also appeared in The Illusion, which was directed by Tony Kushner. Kushner was nominated for an Oscar for his film Munich in 2005 and won the Pulitzer Prize for his play Angels in America.

And with this latest Sam Mendes show, Gayle couldn't be any further from her hometown of Kilmaurs, Ayrshire, where she grew up with mum Anne, dad Gary and big sister Heather.

Gayle attended the Dance School of Scotland, which celebrates its 30th anniversary in 2014, in fifth and sixth year, from 2005 to 2007.

But despite her school days being seven years behind her, Gayle says the lessons she learned have stayed with her.

She said: "The teachers prepared me to be ruthless and gave me confidence and taught us what it means to be an artist.

"I was so lucky to be at that place and it didn't just make me a better performer, it made me a better person.

"Graeme Dickie, the head of musical theatre, was a particular influence on me.

"We were taught to work hard and that what we are looking to do in life is a hard, hard career - but there were no tears allowed, no crying.

"They taught us that nothing will be handed to us. To achieve anything takes hard work."

The new Broadway production of Caberet opens on March 21 and will see Gayle play Fraulein Kost, a German prostitute.

Michelle Williams, Oscar-nominated for her performances in My Week with Marilyn, Blue Valentine and Brokeback Mountain, will also make her Broadway debut as Sally Bowles.

Alan Cumming returns to the role of the master of ceremonies, which won him a Tony Award in 1998.

Gayle added: "I honestly don't know if I would have had the confidence to even audition if it wasn't for Knightswood; it all comes back to the school.

"I learned singing, dancing and acting and I'm finally getting to put all of those things in to practice."

Before the gruelling rehearsal schedule began for the show, Gayle came home to Glasgow to visit her former secondary and speak to current pupils.

She also managed to find time to see her family.

Gayle said: "My parents are so proud of me and have always been so supportive without being in any way pushy.

"I'm very lucky to have them and to have the career that I'm currently having.

"Work-wise, everything I have now is down to the Dance School of Scotland."

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